This was my second trip to Bogota Colombia in the past six months. American Airlines (AA) has had good fares to Colombia that I have used to build my Elite Qualifying Miles to requalify for Executive Platinum status. Once I requalify (soon), I’ll earn four more system wide upgrades that can be used to upgrade any fare to the next class of service.
I flew economy on this trip. As an AA Executive Platinum, I receive free snacks and drinks when I fly in coach. I had no chance for a complimentary upgrade on an international flight to South America. The flight from Dallas to Bogota is 2,400 miles and takes almost five hours. I had and exit row set on the A319. It was a comfortable flight. I relaxed with a movie and the flight following technology.
Executive Platinums can order any snack on the Eats Menu and any drink. The flight attendants came around once shortly after takeoff from Dallas to take food and drink orders and a second time two hours before landing in Bogota to offer a second round of drinks.
Another benefit for Executive Platinums when flying internationally in coach is the ability to access the AA Flagship Lounges, which are first-class lounges. Flagship lounges are located in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and London. There is also a non-AA operated first-class lounge in Miami that AA Executive Platinums can use when flying internationally out of MIA. I’ll have a report on that lounge when I cover my flights to Panama. In Dallas, AA has International First Class Dining but no flagship lounge. This is a room inside the Admirals Club that has enhanced food and drink offerings. My flight to Bogota left from Dallas so I took stopped in to grab a quick bite at lunch.
Sheraton Bogota Hotel
My hotel in Bogota was the Sheraton. It is described as an airport hotel. it is located about 10 minutes from Bogota’s El Dorado airport by taxi. There is a complimentary shuttle that operates from 5:30am to 12:00am. The hotel is part of an office and shopping complex.
Upon arrival, the hotel looked quite inviting. I had a very early morning arrival and checked in at the front desk rather than at the club lounge.
I was assigned to a room on the club level which the clerk described as an upgrade. When I got to the room it seemed nice enough but certainly not one of their nicest rooms.
The bathroom was very ordinary. There was a shower but no tub. Even though I was on a Club floor, the bath amenities were standard Sheraton brands.
Unfortunately the bed was so short that I could only sleep on my side curled up without my feet sticking over the end. That made sleep quite uncomfortable.
The club lounge was one floor above my room. It was visually appealing.
Unlike other Sheratons and Starwood hotels abroad, the food in the lounge was very disappointing. It looked nice and tasted good, there just wasn’t enough of it to make a meal at breakfast or in the evening. On top of that, there was no beer, wine or liquor or English newspapers.
The best thing about this hotel was the spa and fitness center. The fitness center was located in the basement near the pool. It was clean and well equipped. The spa was next to the fitness center. It had a sauna and steam room as well as massage services.
When I return to Bogota, I will definitely stay at a different hotel. Likely the Sheraton Four Points, which is closer to the center of the city or perhaps the W Hotel.
Bogota, or Santafe de Bogota as it was known historically, is the capitol of Colombia. It has a population of over 8 million and is situated on a large high plateau over 8,500 feet above sea level next to the eastern range of the Colombian Andes. One of the must see sights is the Monserrate monastery. It was built in the 17th century and stands in the eastern hills overlooking Bogota.
There is a cable car and funicular railway to get to the monastery. No need to try a steep hike at over 9,000 feet altitude.
There are many museums in Bogota. Two that I visited are the Botero museum and the Museo del Oro or Gold Museum. The Botero Museum houses paintings and sculpture of Fernando Botero Angulo. Botero is famous for his use of “large” figures in his work.
The museum is located near the center of the historical district and the government offices of Plaza Bolivar. It is a popular tourist attraction, but was not crowded when I visited.
The Botero Museum is located in the historical area of Bogota.
Near the Botero Museum is the Museo del Oro or Gold Museum. This museum displays pre-Hispanic gold work. It is the largest such collection in the world.
The collection is enormous and fills two floors of the museum. I don’t know the value of the collection, but it must be priceless from a historical as well as a monetary value.
The Plaza Bolivar or Bolivar Square is the center of government for Colombia and the City of Bogota. On the south side of the square sits the National Capitol, the Columbian Congress.
On the west is the Bogota City offices and the Mayors office. On the north side is the Palace of Justice, which houses the Colombian Supreme Court. In 1985, the M-19 guerillas attacked the Palace and took hundreds of hostages including the 25 Colombian Supreme Court Justices. Many hostages and about half of the Supreme Court Justices died in the attempt to rescue them.
Overall I found the central area of Bogota to be well worth the visit. The area was bustling with tourists and office workers and shoppers. It seemed to be very safe. The leftist insurgency in Colombia and drug traffickers have not presented the problems they have in the past.
On my first trip to Colombia, my taxi driver told me about the best Latin dancing club in Bogota, Galeria Café Libro. The driver had met his wife there years ago. For $20 he drove me there from the Four Points and back and we had a couple of drinks and enjoyed some dances with the locals.
On the weekends there is live entertainment and a crowded dance floor. This is one of the oldest and largest Salsa clubs in Bogota. There is a restaurant in the front. Behind the restaurant are three spacious dance floors and a stage for bands.
Don’t go on Tuesday night or the club will look like this.
Although Salsa and other Latin dances are the traditional dances in Latin America, many in the younger generations prefer top 40 and house music clubs. The Salsa clubs are busy primarily on the weekends. My next trip to Bogota will explore some of the other Latin clubs. There is even a Salsa tour that I’d like to take.